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Omran: The new face of the Syrian conflict

Los Angeles (CNN) The new and haunting face of the Syrian conflict… a sad reminder about the human cost of war.

A little boy sitting quietly in an ambulance. Alone. He’s covered in dust — wiping blood away from his eyes.

Moments before, White Helmet rescuers pulled him from the rubble of a bombed out building in the besieged city of Aleppo.

His name is Omran Daqneesh. He’s just five-years-old. But he’s alive.

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Five-year-old Omran Daqneesh in an ambulance after being pulled from the rubble of a bombed out building in Aleppo

“It’s never-ending for Syrians to watch these kinds of videos,” says Lina Sergie Attar, Co-Founder of Karam Foundation and Aleppo native.

Omran’s mother, father and two siblings were inside the home when the bomb dropped that night. They were all rescued. But Orman’s brother died from his injuries at the hospital.

The entire complex collapsed from the airstrike. The Daqneesh family lost everything.

Activists blame the Syrian regime and Russia for the bombings.

Aleppo has been ground zero for fighting since the Syrian conflict started five years ago. Thousands of people have been killed, including 4,500 children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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While millions of Syrians have fled their war-torn country, up to two million people remain in Aleppo — a city divided into rebel-held and government-held areas.

Sergie Attar studied architecture in Aleppo. The changing maps of the old city to include an Eastern and Western section don’t sit well. “Having to understand the city on these alien terms and ugly terms that have been imposed on us by this war are very difficult to comprehend. But it is our reality right now.”

“You have survivor’s guilt because you wonder, ‘Why am I even thinking about my own home or my own places of memory or the places that I loved coming near the front lines. What right do I have to even feel these things when millions of Syrians have had the front lines cross straight through their homes and destroy everything that they’ve known?'”

Omran has only known war. Bombs have rained down on his community since birth. Escape is an option. But it’s a dangerous one.

In September 2015, Alan Kurdî’s family chose to leave. They boarded an inflatable boat in Turkey bound for Greece. But five minutes into the trip, it capsized. Alan’s body washed up on a beach in the morning. The image of his lifeless body at the ocean’s edge galvanized the world and became a symbol of Europe’s migrant crisis.

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Three-year-old Alan Kurdî lying lifeless on the beach

“I’m wondering, ‘Is this (Omran) another Alan moment, where the world stops for a second and thinks about Syrians being affected by this endless war and we get the hashtags and the articles and the attention, and then in a few days, people will turn away once again,'” says Sergie Attar.

Life is Syria is a daily struggle for survival. Too many innocent voices have been silenced and the world seems lost as to what to do about it.

Omran stayed. Alan left. Both are bad choices. This needs to change. Soon…

IF YOU STAY

Cartoon by Khalid Albaih

“We have to believe that this has happened before to Aleppo and it’s rebuilt itself,” Sergie Attar says. “I just hope that we will be able to witness the end of this war and the beginning of the next phase of Aleppo’s life.”

Written and produced by: Ben Bamsey for “CNN Newsroom Los Angeles.”

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